Archives for posts with tag: pizza

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And Bread Begat Bread, and Pizza, and Cake, OR, How To Use, Not Waste, a Stale Loaf of Bread.

If you are in Mid-Wales, living in or near Llanidloes, and you like good food, there is the wonderful Andy’s Bread — organic, often with Welsh grain, “artisanal,” and truly locally made and enjoyed.  It’s too good, in my humble opinion, always absolutely delicious — mainly and extremely challenging to my wheat problems, because I can’t have just one little sliver– I end up eating half the loaf.

So somehow I must have hidden from myself this hunk of his Vermont Sourdough, because I found it stale- hard as a rock, as pictured above.

I thought to make breadcrumbs, but didn’t fancy grating it, and our food processor is on its last legs.

I could have shaved the stale loaf into pieces, and soaked them in a vinaigrette to use in a salad, or put them in the bottom of a brothy soup, which I imagine as something old-time and nostalgic in France.

Instead, I chose to experiment, and see if I could begin a sponge for a new loaf of bread– in other words, to use it as a mother, or as a baby, I’m not sure which.  So to my children’s consternation, I soaked the thing in water.

soaked bread, shredded

After soaking, as in the photo above, I shredded it, marvelling in the recyclability of bread.  At this point my goal was to make a new, bubbly, yeasty starter– so I added more water, and a little white flour.  Oh, how could I resist throwing in that handful of leftover brown basmati rice, knowing that white basmati is sometimes considered the perfect ingredient in a baguette? –and let it sit, to see if the yeast would come alive.

Two days later, nothing really seemed to be happening, but wanting to take some kind of action I added a hodgepodge of flours: Rye, Khorasan/ Kamut, and Gluten-Free White Flour.  30 years ago, a Goddess of an older Norwegian woman, who herself made incredible, earthy breads, taught me this way, and that’s just how I do it.  Throw it in, mix and match…  Oh yeah, this time I threw in a handful of caraway seeds as I would were I making rye bread.

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Can you notice above, the chunks that remain of the original soaked bread, the brown at the top the crust?

It took more than a day to get a little bubbly,  as the natural yeasts were activated by eating sugars present and doing their emitting of carbon dioxide, at which point I added olive oil, salt, and enough flour to make a proper dough which I could knead and and form into a sweet loveable ball and wait for it to rise.

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And rise it never actually did, I think because maybe some honey or sugar would have helped, or maybe a more vibrant colony of yeasts from the beginning?  But never mind– the original loaf was still NOT WASTED, which was my goal, and I rolled what there was into lovely bases for my childrens’ supper:

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This is to say that bread is a magic ingredient and bread can beget bread, or in this case, pizza dough.

And last year, bread begat cake, a Sourdough-leavened Chocolate Cherry layered cream cake, reproduction of which for the purpose of blogging please stay tuned. x

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I hate throwing out food, for the money, for the sense that so many resources have gone into that food, for the idea that I’ve lost control of what we buy balanced with what we’re eating. Lately milk seems to be going off, just mildly, before we finish it– it just gets that little bit sour and unpleasant and not drinkable on its own or with porridge or cereal, as my children consume it most if at all.

In the past I’ve “cultured” excess milk with a smaller proportion of live buttermilk, a cultured product available in some shops, a soured, living-culture milk that is useful in baking because its pleasant acidity, in conjunction with baking powder, causes a gaseous reaction that leads to nice leavening, or rising, as for pancakes and certain cakes, etc. To do this, you simply mix a bit of the cultured buttermilk with a larger proportion of your milk, leave it at room temperature for a while, and in some hours you begin to have a thicker, silkier “buttermilk.” You can do the same with cream for a soured cream– very nice to eat and cook with, as well.

This week we’ve twice had milk going off, and I’ve tried several experiments, all successful.

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The first time, we realised the problem when I poured some of the milk into our visiting friend’s coffee, and it curdled.  On the spot there I decided to curdle the whole lot, so I heated it all up in a pan on the stove, strained the curds in a sieve, and divided the liquid whey into two jars. (Had it not curdled this way, I would have added just a squeeze of lemon juice or a teeny bit of vinegar.) The curd I let sit, and it became like the most basic of “curd” cheeses / farmer’s cheese– a little bit chewy, very dry and plain in flavour.  Of the wheys, one went straight into a sour-dough starter, later to become pizza dough and flat breads.  I used the curds cheese mixed with other melting cheeses on the pizza, which I privately labeled Sour Milk Curds and Whey — not such an appealing name but a very appealing, nutritious supper made with foods that might have been thrown away.

In the other bottle of whey I mixed two spoons of creme fraiche, and it transformed nicely into a kind of thin buttermilk, similar to what I’ve described above.  (Sometimes what is called buttermilk is the liquid that remains from the cream that’s been shaken into butter– lots of terminology that I am not worrying about too much.)  A week later it still feels fresh.  I put some into a pineapple smoothie (over-ripe pineapples I got for free) which I then pureed and froze into a nice icey snack for after-school– kind of like a sherbet or milky sorbet.

I want to note that neither the curd cheese nor the “milks” from the whey had the ikky off taste or smell of the original milk.  I don’t know how past-best milk would have to be before this kind of activity were no longer possible.

And then, this morning:  I was pouring milk for the porridge, and again, unexpectedly, it smelled sour.  Really not sure why, as totally within the sell-by dates, but I was determined to try something else.  So, as before, I heated the milk, and separated the curds in a sieve.  The liquid is sitting in the fridge, awaiting inspiration- perhaps to ferment something, To Be Announced. The curds this time are especially creamy:  I mixed them with, you guessed it, creme fraiche, because I tend to have it, as a living and delicious dairy product for puddings and soups.  The spread, pictured above, has a creamy, fresh Ricotta feel, delicious honestly like fresh buffalo’s milk mozzarella I once tasted in Rome, and tastes lovely smoothed on bread.  I think it would be wonderful in a tart, sweet or savory, in a crepe, in a blintz, anywhere you might use a soft cheese.

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I’ll never be throwing out sour milk again, always instead seeking ways to transform it.  And I’m looking forward to having kefir grains in my life again, to see what might be possible.  Stay tuned.

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